Acid in wine is essential if you want balance.  Acid means body in wine, the stuffing that holds it all together.  Healthy ripe grapes mean acids develop slowly and fully and are balanced out by an acceptable amount of sugar.  Sugar gets turned into alcohol during the fermentation process.  Grapes that are overly ripe with way too much sugar can not develop good acidity, leading to an unbalanced, flabby wine.  Too  much hang time on the vine, too much sunshine.

Grapes that are not fully ripe haven’t developed much acidity and not enough sugar leading to a tart, high toned wine.  Not enough hang time, not enough sun(or rain, or warmth, or whatever it is that makes fruit ripe).

Acidity is necessary to give a wine freshness, it also protects the wine from bacterial infection.  When people talk about acidity in wine it does not mean you are about to suck on a lemon.

Adjusting acid in wine is best done before and during the fermentation process.  It allows better integration of flavor and aroma and is easier to control the integration.  Tartaric acid (which is naturally present in grapes) is best added at the beginning stage because it  does not become susceptible to lactic acid (the milk, dairy, creamy textured acid) easily and will not lower the quality as much to a finished wine.  Too much tartaric acid will crystalize and separate from the wine anyway, leaving it split and hollow.  Citric acid is the cheapest and most prone to bacterial infection.  It can be added at the end of fermentation and stabilization to give the wine  a perceived “zippiness”.  Malic acid (also one of the natural acids found in grapes) is rarely added because for one it is expensive and it can easily become infected with dirty microbes.  Malic acid is very tart on the tongue but is desirable for wines that have plans to incorporate an inoculation of a bacteria to transform it into lactic acid (the milk, dairy, creamy textured acid) this gives the wine a round, buttery, soft mouth feel.

In a perfect world, in a perfect climate, in a perfect soil; responsible, healthy, fanatical farming will produce healthy ripe grapes and a wine grower will not have to deal with all this acid business.

One Response to “Acidification!”

  1. Peter Says:

    After a big job of standardization of the tastes by Parker, industry and Co, acidity became has become an insult for many professionals and winelovers. Has you said, winemakers are using natural acidity and sometimes additions of acids to balance their wines. But the acid taste can be an advantage for a wine. I think to some very dry wines has BOUCHAT by GUY BLANCHARD (Bourgogne) ou plays about this tasted and give a very fresh result going to citrus fruit. I think to this kind of grapes you can find in Italy and Hungary too for wine with all lemon taste. Acidity can be a pleasure, like spanking love.

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